Vaccines and vaccination: what are they?

As we surf the internet or watch television, one common notion that we have come to accept is that vaccines and vaccination are an essential part of preventing diseases and illnesses. On the contrary, a growing sentiment of anti-vaccination and the boycotting of vaccines have also increased in recent years which begs the question: What are vaccines, and what are their functions?

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine


What are vaccines, and what is vaccination?

Vaccination is a method of enhancing our body’s natural defenses (also commonly known as our immune system) against harmful diseases and illnesses before the viruses that cause these problems come into contact with our bodies. It is usually achieved by injecting vaccines that contain dead or weakened forms of germs or through other means such as orally or spray into the nose.

Can vaccines cause illness?

Because vaccines contain either a dead or a weakened form of the viruses, they cannot cause the illnesses themselves. For instance, vaccines against COVID-19 do not infect the receiver with the virus.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by triggering the following reactions in your immune system which reacts to the vaccine:

· Recognizing the weakened invading virus or bacteria

· Produces antibodies as a response to fight these diseases

· Remember the disease as well as how to fight it effectively in the future

In other words, vaccines stimulate an attack that trains your immune system to fight the real viruses but does not cause the actual disease and is harmless.

Are vaccines dangerous?

All vaccines approved for use by the Ministry of Health are safe and effective, with side effects being minor and temporary, such as sore arms or a mild fever. The chance of severe side effects is extremely rare and should not prevent you from getting vaccinated. Compared to contracting diseases, vaccines are much safer statistically and provide protection from potential infections for a very long time.

Overall, vaccines are closely monitored products that are getting safer every year as technology progresses and more intensive research is conducted.

So why should you get a vaccine?

Vaccines are not simply designed to prevent an individual from contracting a disease; they are intended to avoid a pandemic that can affect millions of people. The primary purpose of vaccines is to achieve “herd immunity”- a situation where enough people are immune to a disease and hence prevent the virus from spreading. By not taking the vaccine, you are not only putting yourself at risk but also for your community.

Now that you’ve known a bit more about vaccines and vaccinations, the best course of action is to spread the knowledge and continue to educate yourself on fact-based scientific research and data. Remember, you are not the only one at stake when refusing vaccination.


Sources and further reading:

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/vaccines-and-immunization-what-is-vaccination

https://covid19.trackvaccines.org/vaccines/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html

https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/vaccine-safety/


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